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2 Scindia loyalists could lose ministerial berth as EC delays MP bypoll date announcement

Tulsi Silawat and Govind Singh Rajput should be elected to MP assembly by 21 October as they have taken oath on 21 April. But election seems unlikely to be held by that time.

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New Delhi: The crucial by-election to the 28 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh is likely to be delayed beyond October as the Election Commission did not announce its dates while declaring the schedule for Bihar polls Friday, and this has put the future of two loyalists of BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia in uncertainty.

State ministers Tulsi Silawat and Govind Singh Rajput could lose their ministerial berths as it seems unlikely that they will be elected to the assembly before 21 October — the day they will complete their six month tenure of being ministers without being an assembly member. Silawat is the water resources minister, while Rajput is the revenue minister.

Both leaders defected to the BJP from Congress with Scindia in March, leading to the fall of the 15-month old Kamal Nath government.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, after taking oath as the CM in March, held his first cabinet expansion on 21 April and inducted Silawat and Rajput, along with three BJP leaders Narrotam Mishra, Kamal Patel and Meena Singh.

According to the rules, both Silawat and Rajput should be elected to the assembly before 21 October as they have taken oath on 21 April. Any minister, who is not an MLA or MLC, should become either of it before the completion of six months since taking oath as the minister.

The six-month period will end for Silawat and Rajput on 21 October, and if elections are not held by then, they have to resign.

With the EC not declaring the dates for the bypolls, it looks difficult to complete the election process, including filing of nomination, scrutiny, polling and the declaration of result, before 21 October.

Under Section 30 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1951, a minimum of 25 days is required to complete the election process after the announcement of the poll dates.

Also read: Now MP Congress accuses Scindia of land grab, urges CM not to give his camp revenue portfolio

‘Can’t rush election process’

Sources in the EC said the dates for the bypolls are likely to be announced at the end of this month and the election process will be completed in November.

Veteran election law expert S.K. Mehrendatta told ThePrint: “It is necessary to give candidates equal time for campaigning, nomination and scrutiny of nominations, then only polling takes place, which is defined under the RPA Act. You can’t rush the election process.”

Former secretary general of Lok Sabha P.D.T. Acharya said: “Under Article 164(1) of the Constitution, a non-legislator can occupy a post in the council of minister only for six months. If he is not elected (within the stipulated time), the Constitution says he ceases to be a minister.”

Other options 

In MP, there is no legislative council, otherwise the ministers would have an option to become its member to avoid resignation.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray became an MLC before the completion of the six month period to continue as the chief minister.

The second option before Silawat and Rajput is to take oath as ministers again after the completion of six months, but this is against Constitutional propriety and the Supreme Court has also ruled against it.

While announcing its judgment in Punjab Congress MLA Tej Parkash Singh’s case in 2001, the top court had said that this was “invalid” and “unconstitutional”. Singh had resigned at the end of the six month period in 1995 and took oath again in 1996 without getting elected to the state assembly.

“The Supreme Court has clearly said this is unconstitutional and if any political party or government does such an act, the court will strike down such an appointment,” Mehrendatta said.

But a senior BJP leader from MP, who didn’t want to be named, said there is no such binding and a minister can take oath if necessary. “It will be decided when such a situation arises,” he said.

Also read: Scindia faction wins, gets plum depts in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cabinet allocation in MP


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